Max Mara’s design team dip into the label’s extensive archive for inspiration on new collections.
Creative director Ian Griffiths, the British designer who’s been with the Italian label for more than 30 years, has just opened the doors of the impressive archive to the BBC, showing off everything from a handbag owned by Coco Chanel to one of Audrey Hepburn’s old coats.
Explaining why the hoard is so vital to the brand, he shared: “What you have here is one of the reasons we have an archive. It’s my design team, and what they’re working on is the next collection inspired by pieces they’ve found here this morning.
“You know, I don’t know how many other brands have an archive like this, but being here with you makes me realise just how unique it is, how inclusive, how extensive and how inspiring it is.”
Other items in the archive include a magazine collection, sketches, textile samples and rails of camel coats – Max Mara’s signature design.
There are 30,000 pieces in total, and in one room alone, 7,000 items have been sourced from vintage stores and markets.
“(We keep them) simply because they’re things that interested us at some time or will interest us in the future,” Griffiths explained, before gesturing towards a raspberry red dress wrapped in tissue paper. “This is one of the best ever flea market finds. It’s been hanging here for years, but when it needed repairing, (we) looked at it properly and discovered it’s by Jeanne Lanvin in Paris. So, it has enormous value in the history and culture of fashion, but we picked it up for dollars.”
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